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Union drama teacher brings big-screen talent into his classroom

Troy Powell and his students
Troy Powell and his students
Posted at 11:07 AM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-28 00:00:40-04

TULSA, Okla. — "I'm more teddy bear than a grizzly bear, but in films, I'm always the worst dude ever!"

Troy Powell has a movie coming out with Nick Stahl and Robert Patrick. He's done about 6 films, 4 television shows, voiceovers, and commercials, but teaching is his passion.

For half of his life, 25 years, he's been with Union Public Schools building a theater program from two teachers and about 100 kids to now employing five drama teachers, a full-time technical director, and...

"(We have) hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of kids that are involved in the program right now," Powell said.

During his tenure as Head of the Theater Program, Powell has put on more than 130 shows and musicals, filling display cases with trophies and some of his favorite costumes and props.

Plus, he holds a distinction very few can claim - multiple Tony nominations.

"There are actually only 3 teachers in the entire US that has been nominated 4 times and I'm one of them," he said.

Powell says because of the students and their dedication to the craft, the Union Drama Department is a powerhouse.

"They've chosen our program as being one of the top 15 in the nation," he said when discussing the Tony nominations.

Power says finding opportunities for students to get real-world experience is the key to success.

"They've been in films so they actually get professional credits and things like that," Powell said. "So they do, they expect to work professionally."

And they do.

These kids will be employed and earning a living in a very tough industry.

"We added it up and there are more kids working professionally in the arts that we've produced, than like all of the sports put together," he said.

All the while, Powell instills in each and every student a sense of belonging and community. He says his favorite moment of every show doesn't happen on stage. It's at the end when all the kids come out and get hugs from friends and family.

"Seeing those kids getting loved on and going like ah, you're valued, you're enough, you're loved. It became a mantra for us at the end of each class," he said

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